Resilient, Strong and Indigenous

By Bronte Phillips

Changing their last names after marriage and sharing their bodies with their unborn children are two ways in which many women and mothers have given up pieces of themselves. First Nations women and mothers in Canada are no exception and no strangers to loss. Starting in 1851 and for the next 116 years, women lost their entire identity through the loss of their status due to the patrilineal Indian Act. Under section 12, the legislation stated that; “any Indian woman who married a non-Indian man would cease to be an Indian anymore.” In losing their status, Indian women also lost; treaty benefits, health benefits, the right to inherit family property, the right to live on a reserve, and lastly, the right to a burial near family on a reserve.

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